Spanning some 40 years, this exhibition at the Royal Academy in London is the largest UK retrospective to date of South Africa’s most celebrated contemporary artist. A variety of Kentridge’s signature films, created from charcoal drawings with stop-motion animation, are on display here – including five of the 11 films from his Drawings for Projection series (1989–2020), shown alongside 25 of the charcoals from which they were made. Drawing has always been at the heart of Kentridge’s approach to art – as underscored by a key charcoal work from the mid 1980s, his large-scale triptych The Conservationists’ Ball (1985) – but the show also reveals the breadth of his practice, which ranges from drawing and film into theatre and music, as with his Notes Towards a Model Opera (2015), a three-screen projection that weaves together reflections of the eight model operas of Mao’s Cultural Revolution with a history of the medium. The show also delves into the distinctive autobiographical and political facets of Kentridge’s work – specifically his focus on the political landscape of modern South Africa, as explored in works such as Ubu Tells the Truth (1997), in which Alfred Jarry’s absurdist drama Ubu Roi (1896) becomes the vehicle for a bitingly critical take on the apartheid era. Find out more from the Royal Academy’s website.
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